Bulgaria’s borders with Greece again blocked by Greek farmers’ protests
Vehicle traffic across some of Bulgaria’s border checkpoints with Greece was on February 10 again disrupted because of blockades by Greek farmers protesting against tax and pension reforms.
The Kapitan Petko Voivoda – Ormenio border checkpoint was closed to all motor vehicle traffic from noon until 8pm, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said.
The ministry said that according to preliminary information, the Ilinden – Exochi border checkpoint at the Bulgarian – Greek border would be closed until 3pm and again from 5pm to 10pm. Between 3pm and 5pm, cars and buses would be allowed to pass, the statement said.
The Ivailovgrad – Kiprinos crossing was closed from 9am, the ministry said.
In a television interview on February 10, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said that “all Bulgarian institutions” were committed to solving the problem at the Bulgarian-Greek border.
He did not rule out that Bulgaria, along with other EU countries, would request changes in the regulations to ensure fundamental rights and freedoms in the EU.
The European Commission had the final word on whether Greece was in violation of European Union law.
“After our letters and reports, it (the Commission) is required to activate the procedure. We will not stop putting pressure because this has been going on for years,” Mitov said.
“There have been such incidents at other European borders and we will seek a mechanism so that, through the EU, fundamental freedoms may be protected not only between Bulgaria and Greece, but overall,” he said.
“I understand the frustration of every Bulgarian citizen, especially carriers and people suffering because of this situation, on the other hand, we are examining options for possible compensation,” Mitov said.
On February 9, Bulgarian Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski reached an agreement with Bulgarian road carriers who had mounted a counter-blockade at the Kulata border checkpoint. The agreement was to allow all vehicles through to clear a waiting queue, while on subsequent days, the checkpoint would be open daily from 11am to 4pm.
The agreement resulted in the queues of lorries that had accumulated clearly, and according to the Interior Ministry, on February 10 vehicle traffic at the Kulata border crossing was proceeding normally.